Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - Oct. 8, 2021

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Parent/Teacher conferences Oct. 11-14;  No School Days – Oct. 8, Oct. 14 and 15

Reminder! Parent/teacher conferences are Oct. 11-14. Most conferences will be held virtually again this year via ZOOM due to COVID safety protocols. Please schedule a ZOOM conference using the web scheduler: https://www.wwps.org/conferences. Contact your child’s school secretary for assistance with scheduling a conference.

How to Schedule Conference Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsQ4kmN9vAM

- Friday, Oct. 8 (Professional Day)
- Thursday, Oct. 14 (Parent Conferences)
- Friday, Oct. 15 (Parent Conferences)

District prepares to launch annual survey

Tuesday night Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith briefed school board members on the timeline for this month's launch of the annual Center for Educational Effectiveness survey.

The district has partnered with CEE for the past five years to administer this anonymous Educational Effectiveness Survey tool. These surveys help the school district determine organizational effectiveness, student engagement and motivation, social-emotional learning, as well as parent/community involvement. Superintendent Smith said the data is critical to tracking progress towards its Strategic Plan goals and initiatives.

The district will begin administering the survey to parents/guardians Monday, Oct. 11. Parents are asked to complete a separate online survey for each child's school. Paper copies are also available by request from the child’s school and have been mailed to homes. The parent/guardian survey, available in multiple languages, takes about 10 minutes to complete and is accessible online from the link sent to parents. The parent/guardian survey closes Friday, Oct. 29.

Students and staff are also taking the Educational Effectiveness survey. The student survey is taken online by students in grades 4-12. It is offered in multiple languages and takes about 12 minutes to complete. Students access the survey by a web link on their Chromebooks while at school.

All building-level staff, from teacher-to-cook-to-custodian, are included in the survey It takes about 12 minutes to complete and receive survey links through their email.

“This survey helps the school district get a full picture of how staff, families and students perceive their school and their place in it,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “This year it is especially important to get this feedback as the district begins preparing for its next five year strategic plan.”

The district is also conducting their regular statistically reliable community telephone survey of approximately 300 Walla Walla citizens. This annual phone survey provides the school board input on how well they are doing in their governance and policy role. The district encourages community members to respond to the survey if they are one of the randomly selected telephone recipients.
"Our most recent phone survey revealed very strong community support for board leadership, financial transparency and district direction," said Superintendent Smith. "This annual feedback provides important input that our board values and responds to."

The survey questions were developed by the Center for Educational Effectiveness, a Washington-based educational research firm, and has been used with over 750,000 educational stakeholders in the Western U.S.. It provides a powerful tool for district staff to benchmark current school perceptions with high-performing schools across the nation.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Walla Walla Public Schools staff and students join Americans across the country in observing National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. This time of the year is an opportunity to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

“We are excited and honored to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month, as we celebrate the students, families and communities in our schools that enrich our lives and inspire us,” said Dr. Julie Perron, Director of Equity and Dual Programs. “This month, in particular, we will spotlight on the district’s various news feeds a few of our new staff members who are part of this incredible heritage.”

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

Learn more at:



Highly capable participation more reflective of district student body

Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Christy Krutulis provided a Highly Capable Program update to the school board Tuesday night.

Summary of Current Program Model
- 3rd-5th grade, one day a week pull-out program (Explorers)
- Core differentiation by classroom teachers at their home school

Middle School
- Extensive honors offerings such as ELA, science, math and social studies

High School
- Services and programs through accelerated programming such as honors/AP access, Running Start, and above-grade level courses

Krutulis said this year's update was focused on outcomes established by the Highly Capable Program Review Committee formed during the 2016-2017 school year. Focus areas for the committee were assessments, professional development and advanced learning opportunities. An example of an improved assessment is one that measures student thinking instead of prior knowledge from outside of school experiences.

Krutulis said there is more diversity in the program as a result of these adjustments. There is an increase of 7% of students who qualify for Free/Reduced-Price meals now in the program. There is also a 6% increase of Hispanic students being served in Highly Capable programs and the number of students receiving English Language services is up from only a few to 37 students in these programs.

Personnel Report (from Oct. 5, 2021 School Board meeting)

Jessica Avery, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School
Aly Fazzari, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School
Carter Martin, Bus Assistant, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Laura Osterhout, Para-Educator, Sharpstein Elementary School
Fatima Robles, Head Start Bilingual Family Advocate, WWCCF

Sherri Dotson, Para-Educator, Sharpstein Elementary School, 5 years
Jesus Leon, Campus Support, Walla Walla High School, 5 years
Jordan Spengeman, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School, 2 weeks

Doug Sperber transferred from Garrison Assistant Custodian to Prospect Point Head Custodian

Care and Share Food Drive

Walla Walla Public Schools is teaming with the Walla Walla Association of Realtors for the annual Care and Share Food Drive. All food donations go to the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank to support those in need. Look for food barrels in schools throughout October to make a donation.

Contact Peter Swant (pswant@kw.com) for volunteer opportunities distributing collection bags. Bags will be distributed to neighborhoods Oct. 14 and 15 and collected Oct. 16 and 17.

Thank you for supporting the 40th Annual “Care & Share” Food Drive. You are making a difference for our community!

School Stories
Principal Spotlight – Michelle Carpenter, Berney Elementary & Maria Garcia, Sharpstein Elementary

October is an opportunity to show your appreciation for Walla Walla Public Schools’ principals in celebration of National Principal Appreciation Month. The school district recognizes the essential role principals play in providing opportunities for students to realize their potential and follow their dreams.

This month the district will spotlight its principals as a way of thanking them for their service.

Michelle Carpenter
Berney Elementary Principal Michelle Carpenter is a self-described Blue Devil through and through. She was born in Bridgeport, TX to Skip and Paula Nichols.

Carpenter has logged 21 years of experience as a K-5 teacher, and has spent the last six years of her career as Principal at Berney Elementary. She attended Western Washington University where she earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Spanish and Math. She continued her education at Eastern Washington University earning a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and she has an Administrative Credential from Gonzaga University. Michelle is a National Board Certified teacher and she serves as a mentor to current educators seeking their national board certificate.

Carpenter says she dedicated her professional career to education because she believes growing and continually being willing to learn is a gift. She believed she could help students, families and adults embrace lifelong learning and considers it an honor to watch this in action. Michelle says her mom and dad are her most influential educators.

“My mom was a teacher and my dad was active in PTA, sports, music and any other activity I chose to participate in,” said Carpenter. “They taught me to be respectful of everyone, learn everything I can, and to be relentless in the pursuit of what my heart desires.”

These days Michelle and her husband Michael of 25 years are “empty nesters” as sons Jacob (21) and Nicholas (19) are busy starting their young adult lives. When she is not working, Michelle enjoys playing with her dogs, cooking, watching podcasts and walking.

Here's what staff are saying about Michelle:

“I love working with Michelle because she is kind and caring to the students and staff at Berney and it shows in the culture of the school. She isn't afraid to be silly and try new things if it is in the best interest and engages kids. She makes time to be IN the classrooms teaching lessons to ensure she still understands the classroom perspective.” - Tara Jasper, District Library Technician.

“Her realness makes me feel like I am not alone and that I can do all the hard things because of her honesty and inspiration of just being herself and encouraging me to do the same.” - Carrie Gonzales, 3rd Grade Teacher

Michelle Carpenter loves being the principal and is a shining example of someone who has dedicated her career to supporting children and families.

Maria Garcia
Sharpstein Elementary Principal Maria Garcia is always the first to show up in costume for dress up day, check a student for bumps and bruises following a tumble on the playground and share words of praise to a colleague for a job well done. Maria has a heart for everyone and lives her life to help others. She was born in Issaquah, WA but grew up in the Golden State of California and graduated from Campolindo High School in Moraga, CA. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from the University of Minnesota before going on to the College of William and Mary to earn an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology. She also holds a Principal Certification from Gonzaga University.

She considers her grandmother on her father’s side to be her most influential educator. Maria fondly reminisces how Ruth Sather Anderson, or better known as Grammie Ruth, modeled strength, enthusiastic curiosity, depth of knowledge about the natural world and a keen sense of adventure. Maria says her grandmother’s drive to explore the world showed her she could do anything, and go anywhere, by following her dreams. In fact, Grammie Ruth summited Mt. Rainier in her 80’s!

Retired WWPS School Psychologist and Special Education Director Betty Schubert had a profound impact on Maria’s career as well. Betty served as her mentor when Maria was hired as a school psychologist in 1996. According to Maria, Betty Schubert taught her everything she knows about working with adults effectively, a key skillset she employs daily in her role as principal.

Maria is in her 26th year with Walla Walla Public Schools. She also has two years of experience as a Music Therapist at the Cleveland Music School Settlement in Cleveland, Ohio. During her tenure in Walla Walla, she has served as school psychologist at all levels and all schools except Edison, and was a District RTI and Assessment Coordinator. She is currently in her 6th year as Sharpstein’s principal.

Maria has been active on the board of Waitsburg’s After School Program in the past and is a graduate of the Sherwood Trust Rural Community Leadership Program. She was driven to a career in education during her early years by the challenge and reward of doing whatever it took to find the right supports for students with disabilities. As a principal, she is driven by the role’s unique opportunity to reduce society’s inequities and to influence the strength and cohesion of our community.

Maria loves the outdoors and is especially taken by kayaking, camping, and hiking. She also has a passion for geology, anthropology, linguistics and reading. Her husband Roger, of 30 years, is the district’s music coordinator. They have a daughter Maya, who is a Special Education teacher in Montana and a son Will, a paraeducator at Berney and instructor at Walla Walla Music Project.

Here’s what staff are saying about Maria:
Maria is the bright sunshine at our school, always smiling and positive! She is always working to find solutions to problems. We appreciate her openness to try new things and her ability to build strong relationships. Maria is an exceptional principal! - Gina Ruvalcaba, First Grade Teacher.

Mrs. Garcia is a true educator in all senses of the word. She teaches with her heart and mind. Maria always gives grace and respect to her Stomper family. We are truly blessed to have her as our Principal. Laura N van Dyke, Assistant Secretary
Maria Garcia believes in the value of a high quality public education. She puts children first in all her decisions and is always ready to pitch in and help no matter if the project is big or small. Thank you to Maria Garcia during Principal Appreciation Month for shining as a beacon of hope for Walla Walla’s children.

Homecoming Dance breaks record for participation

The district’s move to eliminate all fees to participate in school activities is having a positive impact on student engagement. Nearly 1000 students attended the outdoor Homecoming Dance last weekend at the district’s Transportation facility. Walla Walla High School Principal Ron Higgins said it was the biggest turnout for Homecoming in his 37 years working at the school. He said students were respectful about wearing masks and adhering to all the COVID safety protocols. During Friday’s Homecoming game, the 2021 Homecoming Court was announced.

2021 Homecoming Court:
Adeline Hood and Sergio Gomez
Emily Smith and Trenton Walters
Natty Salazar and Dash Sirmon
Rachel Clark and Diego Jaques
Queen Brynn Watilo and King Logan Ashbeck

Thanks to Wa-Hi ASB advisor Shayna Hutchens and the ASB officers for all of their hard work organizing these fun activities for students.

Community Stories
Camp Fire After School Camp Coming to WWCCF this Fall

Camp Fire Walla Walla is working through the licensing process to open a new After School Camp site at the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families. An opening date is to be determined. More information and registration details will be posted at www.WWCampfire.org in mid-October. An application for childcare subsidies for eligible families can be found at https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/services/earlylearning-childcare/getting-help/wccc.

City of Walla Walla Parks and Rec Update

• Pottery Studio is open Thursday/Friday 4pm-7pm and Saturday/Sunday 11am-3pm.
• Pumpkin Carving Contest (FREE) – Ages 3-12. New location at 1st and Main. October 28.
• Beginning Ukulele – Ages 12 and up. Cost is $65-$70.
• CJoy Yoga – Ages 12 and up. Cost is $11-$95.
• Pickleball Skills & Drills Day Clinics - Open to all ages. Cost is $20.
• Fencing – Ages 8 and up. Cost is $20-$75.

Parks and Recreation App! Easy access to game schedules, program registration and more! Download it from your App Store/Google Play Store - Walla Walla Parks and Rec

Please visit our website at www.wwpr.us for updated information regarding recreation programs as it becomes available. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Parks & Recreation Office at 509-527-4527, recreation@wallawallawa.gov or parks@wallawallawa.gov.

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